More than just bratwurst: The best places to eat and drink in Milwaukee

Sep 9, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Milwaukee may not be the first place you think of when you look for a foodie city — but that needs to change.

As a native-born Midwesterner, I grew up going to Wisconsin on a semi-regular basis to visit family. And lately, I’ve been hearing Milwaukee touted for its up-and-coming food-and-drink scene.

So on a recent visit, I decided to scout out some new tastes of Milwaukee and discovered a great mixture of Central European fare, fine dining, breweries and dive bars scattered throughout the city.

I share my findings below — while not an exhaustive list of the best places to eat and drink, it should provide good inspiration for a delicious trip of your own.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

In This Post

The best places to eat in Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s food scene is booming. You can find everything from bratwurst houses to fine dining and everything in-between. Here’s a look at a few places you should add to your Milwaukee itinerary.

Milwaukee Brat House

1013 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203

Milwaukee Brat House bar
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh / The Points Guy)

Craving a beer and bratwurst? Look no further than the appropriately named Milwaukee Brat House.

Landing somewhere between a bar and a restaurant, the Brat House actually takes some inspiration from McSorley’s Ale House in my home of New York City. Beers are served in two small mugs — a McSorley’s tradition – and McSorley’s memorabilia lines the walls of the restaurant’s interior. To be sure, this wasn’t what I expected during my first meal in Milwaukee (especially after a flight from NYC).

But the real star of the show is the large selection of bratwursts on the menu, all of which sound delicious. If you’re traveling with a friend, I recommend you split two of them (or just order two if you’re hungry). I was traveling solo and had a traditional bratwurst that was excellent.

Bratwust and beer at Milwaukee Brat House
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh / The Points Guy)

The Brat House is also the perfect stop before a Milwaukee Brewers game. It’s close to the stadium and the restaurant offers a free shuttle to the game. Meaning you’ll save money on both stadium food and parking — it really doesn’t get much better than that.

Seating is plentiful both indoors and out at the Milwaukee location. You’ll find a second location in nearby Shorewood, Wisconsin.

Oggie’s at Hotel Metro

411 E Mason St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Oggies Dining Room
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh / The Points Guy)

I spent a night at downtown Milwaukee’s Hotel Metro, a Marriott property. I went to Oggie’s, the hotel’s on-site restaurant, as a part of my upcoming hotel review. Frankly, I was very impressed with it and recommend that you stop by regardless of whether you’re staying at Hotel Metro or not.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves a small menu of higher-end American cuisine. I had the brick chicken for dinner; it was cooked to perfection and the seasoned fries were excellent. Better yet, you can eat dinner for well under $30 per person.

Brick Chicken at Oggies
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh / The Points Guy)

I really liked the art-deco atmosphere and the service was great. If you want to dine during peak dinner hours, make a reservation on OpenTable before you stop by.

Margarita Paradise in the Public Market

400 N. Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

No trip to Milwaukee is complete without a stroll around the Public Market, a large indoor market with dozens of eateries, shops, delis, bars and cafes. I made a quick pitstop at the Public Market on my second day in Milwaukee and had dinner at its lone Mexican restaurant, Margarita Paradise.

Enchiladas at Margarita Paradise
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

While I didn’t order a margarita, I did have an enchiladas plate that was delicious and inexpensive. The staff was super nice and chatted with me about why I was visiting Milwaukee. Seating is limited, but it’s a great place to grab take-out to eat in a nearby park or from the comfort of your hotel room.

Third Coast Provisions

724 N Milwaukee St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

If you’re looking for seafood, check out Third Coast Provisions in downtown Milwaukee, a contemporary oyster bar that specializes in pairing cocktails and beer with seafood dishes. It has a vast raw bar menu, a slew of shared plates and entrees.

I didn’t have a chance to eat here during my most recent Milwaukee visit, but it’s at the top of my list for the next time in town due to its enthusiastic reviews and incredible-looking menu. Plus, its super modern atmosphere would make it a great option for a business meeting, date night or a special occasion.

Bonus: Check out The Best Place for coffee

917 W Juneau Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233

I love coffee and make a point to check out local coffee shops when traveling to a new city. After spending my first night in Milwaukee at the Brewhouse Inn & Suites in the old PBR brewery, I took a stroll around the Brewery District and came across Best Place — a quaint coffee shop.

I had a cortado that was delicious and worked out of the cafe for a couple of hours in the morning. The Wi-Fi was fast and the atmosphere was great. You’ll find stained glass artwork on the windows, old PBR signs and even a small gift shop where you can buy Pabst merchandise.

There’s both indoor and outdoor seating at The Best Place, so stop by on a sunny morning for a cup of cold brew. Later in the day, The Best Place serves beer, wine and spirits. Of course, you’ll find Milwaukee classics like PBR and Schlitz on the menu.

Related: This is why Milwaukee is a great pandemic travel destination

The best places to drink in Milwaukee

Let me start this section by saying I’m not a cocktail or high-end bar guy. I’ve always been drawn to dive bars, breweries and other “low key” drinking establishments. So, these are the types of establishments that make up the majority of the places on this list — don’t worry, I threw a few curveballs into the mix too.

Just Arts Saloon

181 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204

Just Arts Milwaukee
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

Just Arts was truly the height of the dive bar scene in Milwaukee. It’s run by Art — a friendly gentleman who lives upstairs from the bar itself. If you’re traveling solo, don’t expect a quiet night. He’ll tell you great stories about his life and the bar itself and introduce you to regulars.

Drinks are cheap and there’s enough free popcorn for the whole bar. It doesn’t have a full food menu, but there is a small kitchen where Art will fry you up a quick snack if popcorn isn’t your thing.

Zad’s

438 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204

Sign for Zad's Milwaukee
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

Zad’s is another local dive on the city’s near west side. There, you’ll find Milwaukee beers and a lively crowd that’s eager to teach you how to play bar dice — I’ll leave the specifics to them, but just be prepared to buy a round of drinks for your new friends if you lose the game.

The staff is excellent too. In a crazy small world event, the bartender working when I visited was from the same Chicago suburb as I am. He told me that the bar is popular with the weekend morning crowd as it opens at a crazy early 6 am. Of course, you can (and probably should) go later in the day, too — maybe make it your post-brunch hangout.

Champion’s Pub

2417 N Bartlett Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211

Champions Pub Milwaukee
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

I met a friend and former coworker at his local bar, Champion’s Pub, on the north side of the city. It’s in a large space with a huge backyard, where everyone seems to know each other. When I was there, many locals were hanging out in the bar’s backyard and watching a baseball game. You’ll find an endless selection of local beers on draft and no shortage of bar games to keep you entertained.

Lakefront Brewery

1872 N Commerce St, Milwaukee, WI 53212

 

Lakefront Brewery is an iconic Milwaukee craft brewery that can be found all over the Midwest. Its flagship brewery on the Milwaukee Riverwalk has a huge indoor beer hall and a large outdoor space with open seating and a separate bar. I wasn’t able to get a seat inside, but the outdoor area was lively and had a great view of the surrounding nature.

The Outsider

310 E Chicago St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

The Outsider is a rooftop bar on top of the Kimpton Journeymen hotel in the city’s Historic Third Ward neighborhood. It attracts a lively late-night crew and serves everything from specially crafted cocktails to wine to craft beers. The view of the city is great, and the rooftop is lined with fire pits and endless outdoor seating. It’s a little bit expensive, but the fast service and great drinks make it worth a stop.

Related: TPG staff’s 15 favorite hotel bars around the world

Bottom line

These were a few of my recent discoveries and favorite places to eat and drink in Milwaukee. By no means an exhaustive list, it should still help steer you in the right direction. I’m excited to return to the city in the future and add even more great eateries and bars to my list.

Feature photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.